Montréal, June 28, 2021 –The Foundation for Athletic Excellence (FAEQ) and Gildan awarded $2,000 Leadership bursaries to five inspiring student-athletes who, in addition to excelling in sport and academics, have made a real difference through their community involvement.
Since 2005, Gildan has invested close to $150,000 in the FAEQ to support young university student-athletes who demonstrate academic and athletic excellence and stand out for their other commitments.
Because the 2020-2021 university sports season was cancelled, the Quebec University Sports Gala will not be taking place this November. Nevertheless, Gildan wanted to highlight the community involvement and achievements of these exemplary student-athletes during a virtual awards ceremony on Zoom.
In their own words:
“Gildan is proud to celebrate these young people, who are driven by compassion, generosity, and altruism; and who create or become involved in projects that make a difference in the lives of those they seek to support. Despite a challenging year for these student-athletes, they have demonstrated a remarkable ability to improve the lives of those around them, and for that, we congratulate them.”
- Geneviève Gosselin, Director, Corporate Communications & Marketing, Gildan
“The FAEQ is fortunate to have been able to count on Gildan’s loyalty and generosity since 2005. By contributing to the university bursary program through the Gildan Leadership bursaries, the Company has encouraged young people to pursue their sports and studies while also playing an active role in society. Thank you Gildan, and congratulations to this unique year’s five recipients!”
- Patricia Demers, Executive Director, Foundation for Athletic Excellence
Emma Bergeron / Volleyball / 1st Gildan bursary and 4th FAEQ bursary
23 years old – Sherbrooke (Rock Forest)
Université de Sherbrooke / Bachelor’s degree in Kindergarten and Elementary Education
> Named to the RSEQ’s second All-Star team in 2019-20: Emma maintained an average of 6.19 assists per game for the Vert & Or and was 4th best in the league.
> Serves as President of the Student-Athletes’ Council: As President of the Council for three years, she has made it a priority to enrich the lives of her fellow student-athletes. Amongst her numerous responsibilities, she is charged with being a liaison between the administration and student-athletes, keeping her fellow athletes informed of what’s happening in their community via Facebook and bi-monthly meetings.
> Participated in the organization of the annual dinner theatre, a university fundraiser: Emma suggested that the 2021 edition be held online with boxed-lunch style dinners and was responsible for finding restaurants to contribute and help with the delivery of some of the items. The event raised $87,000 for the athletics department.
> Conducted school visits: Being in the teaching profession, Emma believes physical activity is essential to a valuable learning experience for her students. During Health and Activity Week, she toured multiple classes at Jardin-des-Lacs elementary school to talk about her career and encourage kids to adopt healthy lifestyles.
> Organized workshops with Triolet High School for young student-athletes to help them develop their own leadership skills: Emma helped recruit other athletes from the University of Sherbrooke to help moderate the workshops and create presentations. She also led multiple group discussions with the kids and delivered her own presentation to over 60 students.
Marie-Pier Champagne / Basketball / 1st Gildan bursary
25 years old – Quebec City (La Cité-Limoilou)
Université Laval / Ph.D. in Urban Planning and Regional Development
> Gold medalist at the RSEQ provincial championships in 2019-20: Marie-Pier maintained an average of 5.0 points and 3.7 rebounds per game for the Rouge et Or.
> Supported the delivery of feminine hygiene products to communities in need: In the fall of 2020, Marie-Pier contacted Vide ta sacoche, an organization whose goal is to provide feminine hygiene products to homeless populations and communities in need. With the help of members of the Université Laval’s Athletics department staff, she began a campaign in October, which collected nearly 6,000 sanitary products to be redistributed by the not-for-profit organization.
> Represented the basketball team on the student-athletes’ committee at Université Laval in 2020-21. During this time, Marie-Pier also helped organize a clothing drive in April 2021; however, it was cancelled due to the lockdown in Quebec City. > Currently working on a pilot project to encourage entrepreneurship with the region’s young student-athletes: This project aims to invite athletic teams to sell items during Rouge et Or games in order to finance projects for their teams.
> Tutor for high school and university students: In addition to her other commitments, Marie-Pier is also a math, physics, and chemistry tutor at the university and high school levels.
Marika Labrecque / Hockey / 1st Gildan bursary and 3rd FAEQ bursary
23 years old – Lac-Etchemin
McGill University / Bachelor’s degree in Kindergarten and Elementary Education
> Gold medalist at the RSEQ provincial championships in 2019-20: Marika scored six goals and had nine assists in the regular season for the Martlets. She added two goals and four assists during the playoff run.
> Helped students create and record CrossFit-inspired routines: During Marika’s teaching internship in the fall of 2020, she was motivated to help her students stay active despite the pandemic. The first project she created was to have her students create two or three five-minute CrossFit-inspired workouts. Marika showed them the different movements and encouraged them to put together their own routines. None of the movements required equipment. The project was a huge success, and other teachers commented that they noticed a marked difference in the concentration levels of students at home and in the classroom. She was inspired to record her students and make the clips available to everyone on the school board. This inspired other students and schools to try the activity in their own classroom bubbles.
> Encourage students to stay physically active with an Olympics-inspired challenge: Marika’s second initiative was inspired by the torch relay for the upcoming winter Olympics. Students were challenged to complete physical activities to accumulate total kilometres. The goal was to amass the equivalent of 10,640 kilometres in total, which is the distance from Saint-Bruno, Québec all the way to Beijing, China. For every 10 minutes of exercise, students logged one kilometre. Every week, their kilometres were tallied, and their progress was tracked. The students were enthusiastic about the initiative and rapidly reached their goal. In response, the goal was adjusted to be the distance to Beijing and back. In the end, the students registered more than 33,000 km – an impressive amount of physical activity for students living without organized sports. In addition to motivating students to continue to move and be active, this initiative also created inter-school links by including fellow student teachers from other schools.
Félix Leathead / Cheerleading / 1st Gildan bursary
23 years old – Montréal (Ville-Marie)
Université de Montréal / Ph.D. in Medicine
> Second in the RSEQ final rankings and silver medalist at the 2019-20 Mauricie RSEQ for the Carabins: Félix was among the Academic All-Canadians (average of 80% or higher).
> Ambassador and member of the board of directors of Swab the World: Swab the World is an organization that aims to collect cheek swabs from as many people as possible, worldwide, to collect stem cells for disease research: As an ambassador for the organization, Félix primarily seeks opportunities to discuss the importance of the cause and make presentations to diverse groups. Creating a robust registry for the organization is very important.
> Served as an attendant in Quebec’s long-term care homes for seniors: Last summer, Félix answered the call to become an attendant at long-term care homes while they were being hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic. He rapidly earned the trust of his team and was given his own wing and patients to treat. He showed significant resolve and leadership, balancing his studies with his job in a stressful environment.
> President of Cyclo-défi pour la pédiatrie, a fundraiser for pediatric care organizations: As President, Félix is tasked with organizing conferences, selling promotional items, obtaining sponsors, and managing the financial resources of the organization. This year, he plans to ride 300 km for the cause.
Nelly Owusu / Basketball / 1st Gildan bursary and 4th FAEQ bursary
23 years old – Montréal (Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce)
Concordia University / Bachelor’s degree in Child Studies
> Maintained an average of 9.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game for the Stingers in 2019-20: Nelly was nominated by the RSEQ for the Tracy McLeod trophy, which rewards determination, perseverance, and unwavering spirit.
> Used social media to speak up against inequality and social injustice: During the Black Lives Matter movement, Nelly did not feel that the RSEQ’s response was adequate. She also felt that they did not do enough to adequately represent BIPOC student-athletes (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour). Nelly used her social media presence to speak out on the matter. Then, on November 1, 2020, she posted an open letter to the RSEQ in the hopes that they would respond favourably. Not only did they release their own statement pledging to be more open and forthcoming with their policies and intentions, but they also recently implemented workshops and held open-discussion meetings for stakeholders from different institutions to speak out about their concerns and visions for the future.
> Interviewed for multiple platforms: Nelly discussed her commitments in these interviews and is now a model for other BIPOC student-athletes.
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About the Foundation for Athletic Excellence (FAEQ)
Since its creation in 1985, the FAEQ has distributed $18 million in bursaries, consisting of 6,000 individual bursaries awarded to 3,000 different recipients. Not only does the FAEQ provide financial support to Quebec’s student-athletes, but it also offers support resources such as academic counselling, sport/study balance, corporate internships, and more. The FAEQ is recognized for its personalized approach, rigorous management style, and influence in sports and education circles. More information can be found at faeq.com.
For more information:
Director of Communications and Partnerships
514-252-3171, ext. 3538
For requests for interviews with bursary recipients:
Administrative Assistant, Communications